Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 12, 2017

G4S Virtual Patient Watch Means Better Healthcare Monitoring

Healthcare in the United States is increasingly a problem, and it's not too much better in the rest of the world. With ever-climbing costs, and little hope of a solution, healthcare organizations are trying to find ways to not only trim costs but provide better service as well. One such offering comes from G4S, whose new Virtual Patient Watch system should provide help in keeping potentially vulnerable patients under control.

The G4S Virtual Patient Watch system works by raising an alarm whenever a patient engages in certain behaviors, like trying to get out of bed—for those who really shouldn't be getting out of bed—or is otherwise engaging in “escalating behavior requiring immediate medical attention,” perhaps like moving around too much in general.

A high-resolution camera placed at the patient's bed is central to the operation, and since it has infrared capabilities, it can more readily spot a patient's movements. An included speakerphone setup allows for the patient to be contacted directly or for staff to be alerted if the patient is unresponsive as well as acting oddly. The whole thing can be mounted on an IV-style pole, which is sufficiently unobtrusive to work well and stay out of the way.

Peter Panaritis, G4S Canada's CEO, commented, “G4S is able to provide both the technology and security staff specifically trained for this environment, unlike any other solution on the market. It has the potential to deliver significant benefits to customers and patients alike, putting their safety and security first.”

While some might disparage the notion of using round-the-clock video surveillance on recuperating patients, there's a certain value to this. For those who need to be immobilized, or for those who just shouldn't be out of bed—elder care might get along with this particularly well—the idea isn't actually so bad. It's really more conceptually wrong; we rebel against the notion of surveillance, but in some cases it might actually be what patients need. It might be a case of solving the wrong problem—we need more remote monitoring material to get patients home faster and thus prevent some expenses of a long-term hospital stay—but in some cases it's both necessary and useful.

Virtual Patient Watch should deliver its share of value to those who need such tools in place, and being able to monitor a patient closely to make sure he or she is sticking to instructions should result in better outcomes, a reduced risk of accidents, and maybe even some cost savings if the reduced accidents mean lower liability coverage for hospitals. It sounds worse than it probably is, but this monitoring system may be helpful in the long run.

Edited by Alicia Young
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